As Ohio State takes on Wisconsin, this meeting goes beyond a Leaders Division battle, it's a fight for the American way.
I am an American.
I am a Buckeye.
I am anti-Wisconsin.
Over the next eight days there will be a lot of hate coming from Buckeye Nation. Spitfire verbiage and spirited banter back by raging passion for our beloved Buckeyes will be spewed at Badgers and Wolverines. (Can you imagine how ugly of an animal a Badgerine would be?) As our perfect season hinges on dismantling our two biggest rivals, programs that have long been a thorn in our side, these next few weeks will be ripe with disdain for the opposition.
I typically am one to not dig into sports hate. Maybe I'm a pacifist, but to me hate should be reserved for Nazis and Hitler. It could also be that in covering Big Ten baseball, I have warm relationships with coaches, fans and players at almost every school. Though I'm a Buckeye through-and-through and the Ohio State Department of Athletics pays me to service the OSU Ice Rink, I try to keep objective and really don't have any emotional attachment to sports. I root for each program throughout the Big Ten to have success and in turn bring in bucks as it will help their baseball and all other non-revenue sports.
Except for one school: Wisconsin.
As much as I may like for everyone who reads this fine blog to be up-to-date on all things Big Ten baseball, a lot may not know much about the sport in our conference. Big Ten baseball is considered a mid-major, our conference typically sends one or two teams to the NCAA Tournament, three during peak years, and have not competed on the big stage, the College World Series since Barry Larkin was at Michigan in 1984.
Big Ten baseball is behind the power conferences so much that Jim Delany threw out a proposal that guarantees two Northern programs spots in the College World Series. We all know Delany can be out of touch with reality, but in this instance Delany is quite the hypocrite. One of Delany's dozen, one of America's largest universities, home of an athletic program that brings in $96 million in revenue, doesn't sponsor baseball.
Screw you, Wisconsin.
I know football is king. I will never doubt try to place baseball atop of football in the collegiate landscape and football does pay for nearly every collegiate baseball program in the country save the likes of LSU and Texas...but this goes beyond college sports, this goes to the heart of being a red-blooded American.
Baseball is still our nation's pastime. NFL may dominate the television ratings and some may feel the NBA is the best global brand among our Big
Four Three sports, but we're a baseball country first and foremost.
Unless you have lived under a rock you know our country has been divided into two fractions. Since August, America has been split on who we name the best. We've been divided amongst generations with one side stuck in the 1950s and the other adopting and appreciating tools we have today. We have been a country of red v. blue. Even though the outcome has been decided, we still breakdown and examine how such a travesty could have occurred with this vote.
Cabrera v. Trout.
Yeah, there was some other noteworthy vote that occurred earlier this month, but regarding sport, when is the last time the nation has engaged in such discussion? While my television wasn't flooded with campaign ads, my Twitter and sports section would not stop on the battle of who should be the AL MVP. This is what baseball does to our country. Even if sitting down to watch a random July Cubs-Reds game is as pleasant of a three-hour experience as teeth removal, we hold baseball in special light.
You want to bond with your father or son? Pick up a glove and baseball. You want to bring generations together under the stars in this beautiful country of ours? Go to a game and teach a child how to keep a scorecard. You want to find the hottest girls to go to a sporting game? Go to a baseball game.
This is why Wisconsin must fall. Everything that is pure and great about our country, the Badgers show they are against with their decision to keep baseball on ice.
Bucky last fielded a baseball program in 1991. A tenth-place finish after back-to-back ninth-place finishes left Wisconsin searching for answers.
In December of 2010 I reached out to Wisconsin to see if they were or would ever consider bringing baseball back. I knew Wisconsin did not axe baseball for Title IX purposes. As I work at the OSU Ice Rink, I'm pretty familiar with Wisconsin's women's ice hockey team which was established in 1999. I knew the Badges had enough women's sports on the table to be able to field a baseball team. The decision to cut baseball was financial and I assumed with the Big Ten in year three of the Big Ten Network finances across the conference has changed, understatement I know, in the last twenty years.
Not only did Wisconsin's response support this, it further adds to the disdain towards their athletic department.
A month after my inquiry, Justin Doherty, Wisconsin's Assistant Athletic Director for External Relations sent me the following message:
"First, I apologize. I realize this is a ridiculously late response to your early December inquiry to us about Wisconsin baseball. Nonetheless, what I can tell you is that our baseball program, despite its long history, was eliminated about 20 years ago at a time when the Wisconsin athletic department was deep in debt and largely unsuccessful in football and men's basketball. The athletic facilities were far behind our peers. Baseball was one of several sports eliminated at the time, so the department could attempt to regain its financial and competitive footing. Both of those goals have been achieved over the past two decades. We have chosen to attempt to remain competitive in the sports that we do sponsor rather than continue adding programs. That philosophy has proven to be successful and we have no plans at this point to deviate from that. Thanks for writing and, again, I'm sorry for the delayed response."
Yeah, that happened.
So Wisconsin kills baseball to get back on sound ground financially. I have no problem with that.
Wisconsin gets back on sound ground financially. Hurray.
Wisconsin excels in football and basketball. Go Alvarez, Ron Dayne and Bo Ryan.
Wisconsin decides, eh we like where we are, let's not bring back baseball. Go to Canada.
Even though we are the best in the Leaders Division, our postseason ineligibility has allowed Wisconsin to secure a spot in Indianapolis. The money-making machine that is the Big Ten Championship Game will provide the opportunity for that program to go to the cash cow that is a BCS Bowl. Whenever Wisconsin receives its share of money from the Big Ten I hate that none of it will go towards better a baseball program which we have seen done throughout the conference with new facilities at Indiana, Minnesota and Purdue and more financial commitments throughout to take our conference out of the mid-major world.
As our Buckeyes head to Madison this weekend to stomp Wisconsin I will take great pride in witnessing the beat down of the most un-American program in our conference.